We are optimistic about the 2017 property market. We finished last year in a strong position, with a record December. There was uncertainty last year, but we saw resilience in the market and those who previously put off making decisions are no longer holding back. We are already enjoying a fast start to the new year, with 1,700 new buyer enquiries in the first week of January alone.
We work for over 20,000 London landlords and, in general, they have entered the year upbeat as we continue to generate reliable returns for them. Tenants had more choice in the final quarter of 2016, but the demand for high quality property from corporate tenants is at an all-time high and, as a result, we are seeing a lot of new landlords. We anticipate rents to increase 5% across the capital as demand for London accommodation continues unabated.
Estate agents continue to feel the strain following uncertainty caused by the EU referendum and higher stamp duty rates. Almost one in five companies in the British property industry are in financial distress, with estate agents hit particularly hard, according to recent research from insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has said the number of homes for sale is at a record low, with the slowdown having a stronger effect in the capital.